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Adult Children of Alcoholics (or ACOAs) refers to individuals who have grown up in a dysfunctional household as a result of one or both of the parent's alcoholism. Adult children of alcoholics find they often have common characteristics into adulthood as the result of their childhood family situation and upbringing, often including alcohol abuse themselves. Dr. Janet G. Woititz has identified thirteen primary characteristics of these individuals:
- Guessing at what normal behavior is.
- Having difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
- Lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
- Judging themselves without mercy.
- Having difficulty having fun.
- Taking themselves very seriously.
- Having difficulty with intimate relationships.
- Overreacting to changes over which they have no control.
- Constantly seeking approval and affirmation.
- Usually feeling that they are different from other people.
- Extreme responsibility or irresponsibility.
- Extreme loyalty, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
- Impulsivity - tending to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsively leads to confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.
Adult Children of Alcoholics can also refer to the 12-step program organization that assists individuals in this category.
- Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization, Inc. website
- Dr. Janet's website, "The 13 Characteristics of Adult Children"
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